Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ghostwrite for a Living

I've had a lot of success ghostwriting articles for trade journals, etc. for prominent business professionals, who are often requested to contribute their expertise to a publication. While this type of writing has some relationship to my previous column on producing newspaper columns for businesses, ghostwriting usually involves producing longer articles or even book-length manuscripts for a client.

The greatest benefit to ghostwriting for clients is that it's not necessary for you to come up with article ideas; your client will do that for you, as well as provide research notes and information needed to complete the project. And you don't have to approach publishers--your client will do that if they don't already have a request from a publisher for an article or book.

Your first responsibility is to be ready to help your client. In my case, I always learn as much about the client's profession as possible before I start a project since I usually find that I need to ask specific questions if I feel their information is incomplete or has possible inaccuracies, or if I simply need clarification about some aspect of the article. It helps if I know what I'm talking about!

You almost always need to have your own professional-looking brochure that informs prospective clients about your experience in order to attract prospective clients. If you are just starting out, approach friends in business or fellow members of your church or civic organizations, or at your youngsters' schools and let them know what services you offer. I've found that by simply letting everyone know about my writing business, I invariably receive requests for bids on projects. By the way, in the beginning I joined several business organizations so that I had lots of contacts, and when I finished a project, I always asked if my client knew anyone else who might need my services. By casting a wide net, at least one of my acquaintances would know of someone who needed my services, and that would lead to another, etc.

And remember, if you ghostwrite for a client, you must never reveal that information to anyone else. How, you might ask, do I get referrals or use their information in a brochure? Simple. Ask your former clients if you may use their name (or business name) as a former client. Let them know that you won't reveal that your ghostwrote articles, etc. for them. If a prospective client contacts a former client for a reference, it's up to them to reveal what you did for them if they choose. On the other hand, they can simply say you've completed work for them that was satisfactory and leave it at that.

Under your list of past projects completed, you can list ghostwriting among other projects, which might include newsletter writing, public relations, brochures, or any number of other projects that you specialize in. Or simply list the types of projects you're capable of, and want to do.

Another way to ghostwrite is to offer your services to write memoirs, family stories, etc. There is a huge market for this type of writing as many people, famous and successful, or not, want to preserve their story for future generations. Often, they'll attempt to write their own story, then will find it too stressful, or too involved, or that friends, family, etc. who they've asked to read their finished project tell them that it is not near as interesting, humorous, or inspiring as they know the subject's life to have been. That's when they'll start searching for someone to help them write a more professional narrative, and that person may as well be you.

Ghostwriting is a relatively painless way to earn a living as a writer, if you want to specialize in it. Or you may want to add it to a growing list of projects so that you always have several avenues of income. Whether you live in a small community or a large city, there are numerous opportunities to find clients.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Write Columns for Business Owners and Professionals

There is one fantastic writing project that can get you started earning money, and you can start today. That is writing ad columns, or business columns, for a local business owner. I know I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating in different words because it can be so profitable for those writers willing to work at it.

Ad columns are those short columns that you can sometimes find in your local newspaper written by someone in business just down the street from you. Or so they appear. Usually these columns will be typeset inside a border, and they’ll feature a business owner’s picture plus their business name, address and phone number. The beauty of these columns is that they dispense useful information so people enjoy reading them, and readers usually have no idea that they are paid ads.

Another column that you’ll often find is similar to the one above, only it is not set apart inside a border, and the business name and other contact information may be mentioned at the bottom of the article, but it won’t stand out. It is longer than an ad column (sometimes a half- or full page) and will probably also feature a photo of the business owner and a byline.

Both of these types of columns are rarely written by the business owner, even though their byline accompanies them. Instead, a professional writer usually writes them. You should approach business owners in your town about producing regular columns for them.

If you know business owners in your community who you think would benefit from a regular column in their local newspaper to acquaint consumers with their business, or who could profit from a column about their profession, approach them. Tell the business owner how a regular, professionally column written by an experienced writer like you, can benefit them. Be prepared to offer a short list of article ideas because often, they will never have thought of having their own column. They will, of course, need to come up with more ideas or else you will have to spend time researching ideas for them—which I hope you will include in your price.

Ideas and businesses include, but are certainly not limited to the following: pet care for a veterinarian or pet shop owner; buying a new home or investment properties, or preparing your home for sale for a real estate agent; landscaping tips and gardening ideas for the local growing region for a nursery owner; decorating ideas for an interior designer or decorator. Suggest that they approach the newspaper editor with ideas for a regular feature article or column, and then you take it from there, writing the articles using their information. You will earn money from writing those articles, and they will build a reputation as an expert in their field. They will not earn income from the newspaper (although that’s possible) but many will willingly pay you whatever fee you propose for producing the articles, especially if you’ve stressed the benefits to them.

Another approach would be to create your own short series of articles (100 words or less) on a topic related to a business or profession, then approach businesses about their buying the articles in batches of 13 (1 calendar quarter), then they buy ad space in a newspaper for their articles to appear. They can have an outlined column with their photo and business name, plus their address, phone, and any other information they want to fit inside the outlined box. These columns should be offered exclusively to businesses in the same area because no one is going to pay you and then see their column repeated in other nearby papers under a competitor’s names. This means you’ll have to make contacts in different areas, and possibly produce a marketing package to mail to distant business owners. The possibility exists to sell the column nationwide if you’re willing to market them, and you can sell the same columns over and over as you find new buyers.

I’ve done articles both ways, writing for business owners who approached the newspaper with a proposal to produce a weekly column about their specialty, and producing ad columns for interior designers and home furnishing stores. Businesses pay for ads all the time, and this is one of the most successful types of advertising they can do because people read their columns without realizing they’re reading paid ads, and they believe the business owners are experts in their field. I’ve seen these columns advertising auto care stores and garages, pet stores, veterinarians, wedding planners, jewelry stores, decorators, travel agents, and any number of other specialties.

Creating either of the above types of columns produces a win-win situation for both the business owner and you, the writer. Plus it is one of the easiest ways for you, as a writer, to gain immediate experience as a writer. You won’t get name recognition, but you will be making money and getting experience that will only make you a better, faster writer.

Why not get started today?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Barbara Kaufmann and Barry Zavah have both had writing successes recently that are definitely worth mentioning here. Both of these writers have previously proven how talented they are with poems and essays published in “Looking Back: Boomers Remember History.”

Barbara Kaufmann

A new education packet, Words and Violence makes its' debut as a Voices Education Project featured selection on September 9


Voices Education Project, a global humanitarian organization, pedagogical institute and center of arts and humanities on the topics of war and peace has partnered with award winning writer and human activist Reverend B. Kaufmann to spearhead Words and Violence. They have been joined in this effort by more than twenty others: educators, journalists, medical personnel, information technology specialists, parents and others who care about a more just and humane future for today's youth.

Click on "Words and Violence.” The Table of Contents appears at left and you can page through the work by clicking on the "title" of the next entry in the lower right hand corner.

Barry Zavah

Barry’s story has been accepted for the Centennial Celebration Submission Contest and is posted. Please enjoy reading it at: http://blog.rv.net/centennial-celebration/featured-centennial-contest-submissions/ and feel free to tell your friends and family about it!

So let’s hear from other subscribers and followers of this blog who have had recent writing successes!